Starting a company isn’t easy, but according to three of Fortune’s most extraordinary female founders of 2015, it’s is one of the most rewarding and fun things they’ve ever done.
Gathered Table co-founder and CEO Mary Egan, Revel Systems co-founder and CEO Lisa Falzone and StyleSeat co-founder and CEO Melody McCloskey shared their startup stories and advice with a packed audience at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit 2015 in San Francisco earlier this month. The conference gathered some of Silicon Valley’s top female business leaders and innovators to discuss topics ranging from unconscious bias and the gender pay gap, to the new consumer-driven economy and women on boards.
The good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship was a theme that bubbled up throughout the two-day summit.
“It’s not an easy life,” admitted Falzone, “but it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.” Her company, Revel Systems, makes iPad-based point of sale systems for retailers and restaurants.
StyleSeat’s McCloskey agreed, calling the first year of her startup “insane” but at the same time, “rewarding and so much fun.” Her startup StyleSeat is an online marketplace for beauty and wellness services.
At this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, I had the opportunity to sit down with Telle Whitney, the CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.
A computer scientist by training, Whitney cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with Anita Borg in 1994. This year’s event welcomed a record 12,000 attendees — a 50 percent jump from last year — and included women from academia, government and tech industries.
Samantha Parent Walravens: Tell me why you decided to name the Grace Hopper conference a “celebration” of women in tech?
Telle Whitney: We founded the Grace Hopper Celebration in 1994. At the time, there was a lot of angst about the issues of women in technology, and we purposefully wanted it to be a celebration — celebrating the work women are doing in the computing area.
Having two kids and a full-time job is a lot for most parents to handle. So when I listened to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki discuss how she manages raising five kids (ages 8 months to 15 years old) and running a multi-billion dollar company, I wanted to bow down and kiss the ground on which she walks.
Wojcicki shared the stage with actress and founder of The Honest Company Jessica Alba and CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King at the Women in Leadership Keynote at Salesforce’s Dreamforceconference in San Francisco this week
CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, who moderated the discussion, quipped, “Five kids by same husband? I love hearing that.”
The inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit was Salesforce’s innovative approach to continuing the conversation on how to advance women in the workplace and close the gender gap in technology. In addition to Wojcicki and Alba, other influential women took the stage throughout the conference, including Academy Award winner and activist Patricia Arquette, CoderDojo CEO Mary Moloney, and Re/code’s Kara Swisher.
Rather than bemoan “why women still can’t have it all,” the women gave advice on how to balance work and family and what still needs to change to attract and retain more women in tech.